At The Centre of Change

This is the entrance to St George’s shopping centre, a major retail outlet which sits at the heart of Preston’s city centre.

St George’s shopping centre has been a mainstay in the centre of Preston for many years. It was first opened in 1966 and was actually an open air centre until 1981 when it was roofed over. St George’s was also known as The Mall for a long time until 2010 when the centre reverted back to it’s original name.

Evidently the centre is capable of adapting and evolving, and seeing as it is now 2016, it could be time for St George’s to evolve once again.

As you can see the entrance itself is hardly inspiring, which should be a concern seeing as outlets such as St George’s are key to the commercial success of any city/city centre.

However this looks set to change.

As first reported on Blog Preston, each of St George’s three entrances look set to undergo improvement work. This work will be done as part of a larger scale project to improve the City centre and draw more people to the city.

Click on the link below to see the full story:

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A ‘long term vision’ is important for smaller Cities like Preston, who are in a constant struggle competing for paying customers with the bigger cities like Manchester and Liverpool.

With those cities boasting shopping centres such the Trafford Centre, Manchester Arndale and Liverpool One, it is hardly surprising that often people from more rural areas outside of the cities would choose to go shopping in Manchester rather than Preston. Therefore, the commercial success of St George’s shopping centre is vital to the city of Preston if they stand to compete with the big cities.

However, for St George’s, there is also local competition in the form of the Fishergate Shopping centre, which is literally down the road from St George’s:

Butler Street entrance to Fishergate Shopping Centre

The Fishergate Shopping centre was opened in the 1980’s and has long been the number two shopping centre in Preston. The competition is good for all parties and Preston city centre as a whole certainly benefits the most from this. The city offers two large shopping centres that are separated by a five minute walk (according to google maps).

The competition also means that both shopping centres need to keep improving and making changes in order to keep their customers coming back. So St George’s plans to improve their entrances should help them to maintain their status as the biggest shopping centre in Preston.

However, more can and seemingly will be done to improve the city centre. Here is what Mark Whittle, Manager of Preston City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) had to say when asked about the current state of Preston City Centre:

“The city centre has undergone considerable investment over recent years and is on a journey of significant resurgence. We have welcomed new businesses to the city centre together with seeing major investment from those already sited in Preston.
We fully understand there is work to be done and together with city stakeholders, we are acutely committed to supporting enhancement measures to make sure that the city centre remains a safe, vibrant and welcoming place to visit, work, invest and live”

I also took to twitter to ask people what they thought of Preston City Centre. Here are the results:

Clearly more work looks set to be done to improve Preston City Centre, but the proposed ‘face-lift’ which St George’s shopping centre is set to undergo is certainly a good starting point.

While some may complain that big shopping centres like St George’s are bad for City centres as they take away business from local shops and establishments, there is no denying that they make it possible for smaller cities like Preston to attract many more paying customers than they would without them.

Preston City Centre should attract even more people and continue to be commercially successful once the improvements to St George’s are completed.